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PPDC Botany lab

Plant Pest Diagnostics Center - Botany Laboratory

Sampling & Submission Guidelines

Plant specimens in plastic bags or bottles always run the risk of arriving at the laboratory decomposed or “cooked” beyond recognition.

The preferred way to send a plant specimen to the Botany Laboratory is to place the specimen between sheets of folded newspaper, place some weight on it for an hour or so (it does not need to be dry, just pressed flat). Do not use tape, staples, or plastic laminates; they are not needed and get in the way--especially plastic lamination.

The specimen should be large and complete enough (i.e. includes enough material) to fit within a vertically cut (torn) half sheet of newspaper folded in half horizontally. Dissociated leaves, flowers, fruits, sterile specimens and especially seedlings are likely to be identified as “material inadequate for (complete) det.”.

Put the pressed specimen in a manila envelope, a flat box or, preferably, a shipping container can be made from two pieces of corrugated cardboard. Place the flattened specimen and the PDR slips between the two pieces of cardboard then seal with shipping tape around the edges. The mailing label is placed on the outside and it is ready for mailing. Several counties have used this method for years with excellent results.

Even very delicate aquatic plants such as hydrilla or elodea should be sent this way, If the newspaper becomes soggy, you should change the paper, perhaps several times, to remove the excess moisture before sending the specimen, This will help to dry it out and keep it from rotting while it is in transit.

Remember: A pressed specimen can never become too dry. Flat, dry plant material can always be examined and identified by a plant taxonomist, and can often be rehydrated if necessary, but little or nothing can be done with a soggy, moldy, decomposed, or shriveled & dry specimen.

For the most accurate determination, please remember to include locality, habit, & habitat data with the sample.